Our days are filled with short pauses between tasks: stoplights, waiting for food in the drive thru, sitting in a waiting room, or restarting the computer. If you are like me, you find yourself staring blankly into the distance during those times or scrolling through social media.
It is just a minute or two. No worries.
True, wasting a minute here or there between projects is not a huge problem – especially if your schedule is full; but, could those hidden moments be more useful? Could those minute breaks add up to something much larger? In the spirit of being intentional, I am challenging you (and myself) to make more of life’s short pauses.
As I write this, I am sitting in the Walmart parking lot waiting for my pickup order (having someone shop and put my groceries in my trunk is a finally realized dream of mine). The service is typically quite fast, but there are still a few minutes to “kill” while waiting for my order.
When you consider how your day flows, how many small windows of time do you spend waiting? Waiting for the microwave, waiting for an appointment, or waiting for someone to meet us at a coffee shop – we all spend time waiting for the next thing to happen. If we are intentional, we can accomplish a lot with those short gaps.
We can schedule appointments, do some meal planning, water the plants, check the mail, wipe off the table, or review notes for a test, just to name a few ideas. Maybe you are wondering, “What does this have to do with my relationship?” Well, consider this… when we capitalize on our hidden moments, it frees up future time for our significant other.
Thinking about all I need to accomplish in the next few days, I feel overwhelmed and extremely pressed for time. My hope of having quality time with Eric seems lost. But, by doing some of my brainstorming and work while I wait at Walmart, I can potentially set aside a few extra minutes to connect with my husband. Not to mention it feels so good to knock out some work ahead of schedule!
Intentionality Tool: Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule
Gretchen Rubin, the author of Outer Order, Inner Calm, recommends we follow the one-minute rule to help us order our lives and bring peace to our world. The following is from her blog post, Need a simple and effective way to get your life under control? Try the ‘one-minute rule.’:
It’s very simple: I must do any task that can be finished in one minute. Hang up my coat, read a letter and toss it, fill in a form, answer an email, note down a citation, pick up my phone messages, file a paper, put a dish in the dishwasher, replenish the diaper supply by the changing table, put the magazines away…and so on.
Because the tasks are so quick, it isn’t too hard to make myself follow the rule—but it has big results. Keeping all those small, nagging tasks under control makes me more serene, less overwhelmed.
How Can We Be Intentional with our Short, Spare Moments?
For some, putting their moments to good use is like breathing. When they have a minute to spare, they find some beneficial way to spend it. Others are less likely to think about filling their spare moments with tasks. So, for those of us who may daydream our time away, here are a few ways to bring intentionality to our intermissions:
- Memorize Scripture
- Schedule appointments
- Make a grocery list or schedule grocery pick up
- Make a to do list
- Answer emails and texts
- Return phone calls
- Check in on friends
- Send an encouraging note to your significant other
- Brainstorm for work projects
- Clean something
- Organize something
- Throw away junk
- Create a donation pile
- Pull some weeds
- Prep some food (e.g., defrost chicken, etc.)
- Do stretches and exercises
- Drink water
- Grab a snack
- Restock your fridge
- Brainstorm gift ideas
- Deep breathing and relaxation
- Close your eyes and rest
- Write a quick journal entry
If helpful, print the above list of three-minute tasks to use when you find yourself in a waiting moment. It never hurts to have a “cheat sheet” to spark ideas when starting a new habit.
What Should We Intentionally Avoid?
Though there are many ways to redeem our short windows of time, there are also tasks we should avoid when we only have a few moments to spare, such as:
- Discussions with your significant other which are emotional or potentially conflictual
- Mindlessly snacking
- Visiting older neighbors or relatives who appreciate longer visits
- Calling customer service
- Balancing your budget or checkbook
More than once, I have attempted to cram something large (like an important conversation with Eric) into my three-minute window and it only caused anxiety and frustration. While you list items you can accomplish during your short waits, also list what you should avoid doing when you only have a few minutes to spare.
Does Every Moment Have to be Busy?
Is there something inherently wrong with not spending every second in forward motion? No, I do not believe so. Humans were not built to go nonstop. Every moment does not need to be busy, but we feel more organized and peaceful when we spend our time intentionally.
Today, I felt tired and run down. I decided I could either continue working and fight through the weariness, or I could stop and lie down for a short nap. So, I did! For forty-five glorious minutes, I lay in bed cuddled up with a heating pad and snoozed. When I got up, I felt considerably better and continued with my day. While I slept, I was far from busy, but I was being quite intentional with my time.
Throughout this next week, take notice of how many minutes you spend waiting, and notice how you fill that time. Are you happy with how you use your hidden moments? Do you want to make more of those daily intermissions? Try adding a dash of intentionality to your schedule and see if it does not improve your life, and maybe even your relationship.
Live life on purpose!
How can you be more intentional with your short moments this week?